Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Inca Trail

For the past 4 days myself, Dan and 9 other travellers traversed the Inca trail. This consisted of 4 days of hiking through the Andes, before arriving at Machu Picchu for sunrise on the final day.

Our group consisted of me, Dan, 4 other Brits (Hello James, Rachel, Robyn and Amy) 3 Canadians and 2 Aussies. Accompanying us were a support team of 21 (!) locals, comprised of guides, cooks and porters.

The porters were a force of nature, virtually running half the trail with 25kg packs containing all our tents, food etc. We would get up to hike in the morning, leaving the porters behind to dismantle the campsite. By the time we arrived at the next campsite, the porters had taken down the old campsite, ran past us on the trail and put up the new campsite. They even had time to clap us into camp on our arrival. Truly impressive.

The hike itself is one of contrasts. During the day it was as hot as 30 degrees and we trekked in shorts, t-shirts and litres of sunscreen. However at night temperatures dropped sharply, falling to – 6 degrees on the second night. Really quite nippy that.

Another major hurdle was altitude. I assume trekking up a mountain is not a piece of cake at the best of times, however at our highest point we were over 4,200m above sea level (in old money this is over 14,000 ft – to put this is context I did a skydive last year from 12,000 ft). At this height the air is pretty thin and catching your breath can be difficult. Luckily we turned out to be a (fairly) fit bunch and everyone made it without too many issues.

The final day began with us being woken at 4am to start the trek to Machu Picchu. After 3 days trekking there was a certain lack of enthusiasm for the early start. However, come 7am you reach the Sungate, see the sunrise over Machu Picchu and come to the conclusion it was well worth it. Quite a humbling sight.


Luxury – Luxury is a western toilet. Going to the loo at 2am, into a hole, in a shed, halfway up a mountain, when its – 6 degrees, is simply not a pleasant experience.

Bedtime – Due to a combination of cold, dark and early starts, bedtime on the Inca Trail is 7pm. Think I was probably 5 years old the last time I went to bed that early.

Stupidity – Do not run on the Inca Trail in a juvenile attempt to beat your friends to the campsite. This will result in you nearly falling off a very large mountain.

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